The situation of the Yemeni women in Yemen
I am here on behalf of ToBe Foundation and Women4Yemen Network to present our contribution to this discussion.
Situation for women:
Women in Yemen are the group most affected by the ongoing conflict, taking on full responsibility for the entire household alone and with no support. 1 million pregnant women are malnourished and 2,6 million women are at risk of gender-based violence. Thousands of women delved into the job market for the first time with no skills in a country with a poor service delivery system. Child marriage has tripled since 2017 and women and girls are pressured to resort to negative coping mechanisms to make a living, such as begging, prostitution, getting into debt.
Women activists in peace and civil society face unprecedented levels of retaliation and oppression by all parties to the conflict, particularity by the armed groups affiliated with the Ansar Allah Movement (known as the Houthi group) or the armed groups affiliated with the UAE-US led coalition, according to the recent report by the UN’s Group of Eminent Experts (GEE). The GEE report shows how gender norms are used as a weapon of war to silence women, and we have mentioned this point in a side event at the Human Rights Council, where we say that defamation, false prostitution accusations, and sexual violence were used to create social stigma to silence women activists, particularly peace activists, and this was worsened by a crushed civil society and media blackout.
At the decision-making level, women’s participation in political life and the peace process is extremely poor. In the last peace negotiations in Stockholm, only one woman participated. Yet, women’s voluntary efforts in other tracks of peace support the peace process. Women continue to form grassroots and high-level coalitions in order to unify their voices calling for peace.
We, therefore, call for:
- Immediate ceasefire
- Ensure effective participation of women in all peace processes, with at least 30 percent representation.
- Revive the peace process.
- Ceasing arms supplies in Yemen.
- Peace process should be inclusive and not only to those who cause conflict.
- Provide protection to women activists campaigning for peace and human rights.
- Pressuring all conflict parties to end all forms of sexual violence against women.
- Mainstream gender in all processes; women and civil society should be included in all committees and entities resulting from negotiations.
- Ensuring accountability for all violations in Yemen.
- Supporting grassroots women-led peace organizations such as the Association of the Mothers of Abductees.
- Working for respecting the humanitarian law and accountability measures by all parties. This must include to hold the international community accountable, the Swedish government and all other stakeholders who signed UNSCR 1325 and have shown commitment.
 Humanitarian Needs Review, 2019
- Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen*. (2019). Situation of human rights in Yemen, including violations and abuses since September 2014. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
- Hagedorn, E. (2019). Yemeni women activists escape war with the help of a global, underground network. PRI.
- Joint Statement. (n.d.). A call for peace in Yemen and women’s meaningful participation. UN Women; 1325; SAF Yemen.
- SAM Organization for Human Rights. (2019). ماذا بقي لنا؟[What has been left for us?].
- UNOCHA. (2019 ). Humanitarian Needs Review.
- Women4Yemen Network. (2018). Arbitrary arrest and detention of Yemeni Women jeopardizes gender equality and peace; threatens Stockholm Agreement. Women4Yemen Network.
- Women4Yemen Network. (2019). WFP decision to halt aid is an indicator of a larger problem of crushed civil space, affecting the lives of millions of Yemenis and threatening opportunities for sustainable peace. Women4Yemen Network.
The paper is a joint paper by Women4Yemen Network and ToBe Foundation organized by Operation 1325. The panel included Green Monica from UN Women in Sweden and Peter Semneby, the Sweden’s Envoy to Yemen.